History Channel // 1994 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // May 28th, 2004
Delve deep into the origins and enigmas of the scriptures with this groundbreaking program from the acclaimed series Mysteries of the Bible.
They didn't delve deep enough. No, I'm not talking dirty. What I mean is that for a program purporting to give us an in-depth look, The Execution of Jesus is like fast food: filling, but not all that good for you. I can't help but feel that the only reason this A&E program has seen the light of day on DVD is due to the colossal success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.
If you're reading this, it's safe to assume that you belong to one of the Christian denominations. As you undoubtedly know, there are some gaps in the four Gospels that people are still attempting to close today. What The Execution of Jesus attempts to do is find an answer to these questions. It fails miserably. Watching this boring, shallow documentary reminds one of those In Search of... pictures barfed out by Sunn Classic Pictures in the late '70s. You know those films: the ones where they go searching for a symbolic object (such as Noah's Ark) but never find what they're looking for. The scholars and theologians interviewed here go searching for answers but never find them.
For a documentary with the title The Execution of Jesus, there is very little about the execution itself. Oh, we get plenty of back story about the events leading up to it. Not to mention the unsavory speculation that Christ may have been eaten by vultures on the cross. (If you watch this documentary, don't do like I did and eat lunch first. You'll lose it.) However, I would have liked to see a recreation of the crucifixion using the original historical sites. There is some hint of that, but not enough.
A&E's full-frame transfer looks mediocre. The colors look washed out and dull, which shouldn't be the case. Grain and pixelation galore appear at an increasing rate. Edge enhancement appears. Unless the interviewees are canonized saints, they shouldn't have a glow about them.
Audio isn't much better. The case proclaims the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround stereo. For stereo sound, this mix is awful. The sound is muddy for half the running time, and the remainder is tinny and harsh. Dialogue is often overlapped by the background score. In a feature this would be a distraction. For a documentary, it's lethal. Not even the worst mono mix sounds as terrible as this stereo track.
Extras? Are you kidding? You'll have to be content with the documentary itself. In a way, I was pleased there were no extras offered here. If the documentary was that awful, Lord knows how much worse the extras would have been.
A&E actually thinks people are willing to shell out $19.98 for this travesty. If you must see this, wait for it to appear on A&E or sister network The History Channel. You'll lose an hour of your time, but you'll be twenty bucks richer in the end. Instead, invest the money in a worthwhile film about Jesus Christ such as Jesus of Nazareth or King of Kings. You'll thank me later.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated